In 2008, Democrat Dina Titus was the hard-charging challenger looking to upend Republican Rep. Jon Porter, whom she criticized as losing touch with constituents in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District.
Two years later it's happening again.
Only now Titus is the vulnerable incumbent defending turf against Republican Joe Heck, who according to a new poll is in a statistical tie with the Democrat.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal/8NewsNow poll shows 43 percent of likely voters prefer Titus, 42 percent like Heck and 8 percent are undecided.
The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey of 400 voters has a 5 percent margin of error, meaning the race is a statistical tie with less than three months until the election.
David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said a tie is "a little misleading," and actually represents an advantage for Heck.
"Typically a challenger gets the majority of the undecided bloc before the election," Wasserman said. "If voters haven't made up their mind to support Dina Titus now, it is unlikely they will before election day."
Wasserman rated the race as a tossup, but added: "If that is what polls are showing the day before the election, the odds are Dina Titus is not coming back to Congress."
Third District respondents also were asked if they had favorable or unfavorable recognition of the candidates.
For Titus, 42 percent viewed her favorably, 44 percent unfavorably, 13 percent were neutral and 1 percent didn't recognize her.
For Heck, it was 35 percent favorable, 16 percent unfavorable, 33 percent neutral and 16 percent didn't recognize him.
Titus does have a clear fundraising advantage. She had $1.2 million in campaign cash on hand, compared with Heck's $362,138, at the end of the most recent reporting period.
Analysts say her best bet is to use it to sway the 49 percent of likely voters who have a neutral or completely unformed view of Heck.
"Titus' best chance of winning is to demolish Heck and make him an unacceptable alternative for voters who might want change," said Nathan Gonzales, an analyst for the Rothenberg Political Report.
Heck is a physician, business owner, U.S. Army reservist and former state senator.
He lost his 2008 re-election campaign to newcomer Shirley Breeden, who, like Titus versus Porter, rode the coattails of President Barack Obama.
Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the survey, said although Titus posted a slight lead, it isn't important considering her overall numbers.
"The fact of the matter is she is in the low 40s, her negative rating is higher than her favorable rating and her lead is extremely slim even though she has a 15 percentage point name recognition advantage," Coker said.
He compared it to 2008, when Porter had a 3 percentage point lead over Titus in October, just a few weeks before the election.
"We're sort of seeing the same scenario repeat itself two years later," Coker said.
Titus does benefit from the high-profile, nasty race between incumbent Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and conservative Republican challenger Sharron Angle.
Reid is expected to spend as much as $25 million to hang onto his job. If he does, he'll need to do well in Titus' suburban Las Vegas congressional district.
That means Reid's organizers will be on the ground to bring out Democratic voters, who are also likely Titus voters.
The Senate race also gives Titus an easy target in Angle, a strident conservative who has made controversial statements on issues from Social Security to unemployment.
The Titus campaign is seeking to tie Heck to Angle's controversies.
"When people begin to focus on the race ... the differences are going to be stark," Titus said Friday following an event with senior citizens at the Whitney Recreation Center in Las Vegas.
The event was a small party with about 20 senior citizens to honor the 75th birthday of the Social Security program.
Titus used it to highlight her views on the program and to suggest Heck would undermine it.
She referenced former President George W. Bush's plans to privatize the program and suggested it could happen if Republicans return to power.
"Think of what would have happened if that had occurred prior to the big economic crash that just occurred," she said. "We can't let that happen."
While Titus will try to link Heck to Angle, Heck's campaign is seeking to link Titus to national Democrats such as Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Obama.
"As unemployment continues to rise at an alarming rate and southern Nevadans continue to struggle in their search for sustainable employment, I am confident that the voters of southern Nevada will join our campaign to bring a new direction to Washington," Heck said in a written statement.
After her talk Friday, Titus pointed out that she is working hard to help residents affected by the high rate of foreclosures in the district.
Last weekend, she held a foreclosure workshop in Las Vegas, and her office responds to countless calls from constituents seeking help.
She also cited two wars and tax breaks dating to the Bush administration as contributors to the nation's economic problems.
"I didn't create this mess. I inherited this mess," Titus said. "I've been doing everything I can 24-7 trying to make the situation better."
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@review journal.com or 702-477-3861.